Riggs – a fifth-year transfer out of Florida after a prep career at St. Thomas Aquinas High School in Fort Lauderdale – provided the Irish with a veteran presence at cornerback opposite sophomore/first-time starter Cole Luke.
Riggs, a 5-foot-9, 185-pounder, played cornerback and safety for the Gators, finishing his time in Gainesville at the latter position where he made 51 tackles and 6 ½ tackles for loss in 2013.
At Notre Dame, he provided the Irish with lock-down cornerback skills, finishing with an interception, three passes broken up and four passes defensed in 11 games. Early in the season, when Riggs was still healthy, opposing offenses tended to throw the football away from him.
A foot injury – a “stress reaction” – hampered Riggs over the final five games of the season. He was passed over for participation in the annual NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis in February, even though he played in the NFLPA game at the StubHub Center in southern California in mid-January, seemingly showing that he had advanced beyond the injury.
“I played in the NFLPA game before the combine, so I don’t think my health was an issue,” Riggs said.
“I don’t know what went into that decision. I’m just trying to move forward from it. It only makes me work harder and have more of a chip on my shoulder. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is after that.”
Riggs continues work on completing his Master of Science degree in Management from Notre Dame. He commutes between South Bend and Chicago, where he’s working out at EFG in preparation for Notre Dame’s Pro Day. Riggs attends classes Monday through Thursday, drives to Chicago Thursday afternoon, and then squeezes five days worth of workouts into a four-day span before returning to the campus.
“I’ve made tremendous strides since I started preparing,” Riggs said. “I started off in Miami, and once school started I began training in Chicago so I would be able to commute back to school. I expect my numbers to be really good at my Pro Day.”
Although the injury is behind him, the momentum toward what was shaping into an outstanding ’14 season was thrown out of kilter.
“I thought I performed well against good competition when I was healthy,” Riggs said. “I started turning my phone off because I was getting so many calls. I got real good feedback. But when you get hurt, the phone calls stop.”
Riggs has zeroed in specifically on his bench press and vertical jump, both of which can answer questions as to whether he can play safety on the next level. Riggs considers himself to be a cornerback first, but he wants to present himself to the NFL scouts as a well-rounded, versatile prospect.
“I need to show that I can get up with some of the bigger receivers, and if a team asks me to play safety, I need to show them that I’m capable of being strong enough to play there,” Riggs said. “I’ve played multiple schemes. Sometimes you need your safety to cover the slot, so if that’s what they need me for, I’ll do it.
“I’ve always been very quick in my backpedal and very quick out of my break. I’m not worried about that as far as drills are concerned. I’ve been doing DB drills my whole life. I know I need to perform well in those drills. Given that I’m a smaller corner, I’m trying to make sure everything is perfect.”
Riggs will conduct every test the NFL scouts offer at Pro Day.
“I’ll do everything,” said Riggs of the Pro Day routine. “I was frustrated by the whole combine thing, so to get the opportunity to do all the workouts in front of the scouts, I have to make the most of it.”
Brown Brothers Management, led by former Notre Dame wide receiver Bobby Brown and his brother, Terry, represents Riggs.
“Having my agent be my uncle as well as my mentor has helped out,” said Riggs of Bobby Brown. “He’s given great insight to me because he’s had friends that went early in the draft and he himself didn’t get drafted. Having someone who has been through it that I’ve been around my whole life helps a lot.”
Workouts with various organizations will take place after Pro Day. Whether he’s drafted early or late, Riggs believes he’ll be on an NFL roster this fall.
“I’m very confident,” Riggs said. “I will get a shot. I just have to make the most of the opportunity. I’ve seen so many people who had it all laid out in front of them and things happen. You can’t control everything in life.
“By remaining in school, I want to make sure I’m set if things don’t go my way. I enjoy what I do in school, but at the end of the day, I only get one chance to be a football player. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I want to make the most of it.”